After leading the University at Buffalo to two straight trips to the Mid-American Conference championship game, head coach Stu Riddle has accepted the same post at Northern Kentucky University, the coach confirmed Sunday night.
"It's a sad scenario to have to leave Buffalo," Riddle said, by phone. "Professionally, I thought I could do big things here, but with the resources at hand, this was as much as I could do."
The New Zealand native leaves Buffalo with a 28-32-13 record over four seasons after being hired from Western Michigan. Riddle went 20-11-7 over his final two campaigns, helping develop Russell Cicerone into a likely Major League Soccer SuperDraft pick and guiding the Bulls to the brink of the NCAA National Tournament. UB fell to superpower Akron by one goal on each occasion.
"I've been to four finals in seven years with two different teams, both in the MAC," Riddle added. "I thought it was time for a new conference with a level playing field and a full deck of cards."
"I'm ambitious. I see [Northern Kentucky] as a better chance to advance my career," Riddle continued. "I think I can win there, and be competitive in conference and nationally. There's great support for the program, they're fully funded in terms of scholarships and the facility, a $6.5 million soccer-specific stadium, is five miles from Cincinnati, which will have an MLS team soon."
In addition to turning the Bulls into a MAC contender, Riddle oversaw a team that excelled in the classroom, especially late in his tenure, as his squad earned the highest GPA for UB men's teams during the 2016 fall semester.
“I want to wish Stu and his family nothing but the best as they make the move to Northern Kentucky,” said University at Buffalo Athletic Director Allen Greene, in a statement Monday afternoon. “Stu is leaving the men’s soccer program in a much better place because of his hard work and dedication and I am very confident that we will attract high level coaches that will be able to continue to grow this program.”
In early December, Riddle interviewed at the University of Central Florida, where Danny White, the athletic director who hired him at UB, currently works. Although Riddle was passed over for that job, five or six other schools reached out to him after news broke that he was interviewing.
Riddle's wife, Jessica, is a native of Evansville, Ind., a little over three hours from the campus of Northern Kentucky, a perk of Riddle's decision.
"It's really sad that we have to do this," Riddle reiterated. "My girls - now 6 and 4 years old - have grown up here. I've grown to love the local sports teams - the Bills and the Sabres - even though I'm not sure why because they seem to lose every week."
Northern Kentucky is expected to make the hiring official at a press conference at 10 a.m. Monday. Riddle noted that he contacted UB's players, who are still on winter break, to pass along the news.
Davie Carmichael, Riddle's chief assistant at UB, will likely be in the running to assume the Bulls' head coaching job.
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